About Mireille van Reenen

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So far Mireille van Reenen has created 12 blog entries.

Mercedes Benz South Africa Diamond Legacy artwork, 2023 – current

We are currently working on an exciting commission – a 4 meter high, 7 sided diamond structure – for world renowned and much loved Mercedes Benz South Africa (MBSA) in East London, under the current directorship of Andreas Brand. Andreas took the time to attend a sustainability session we hosted in January 2023 in Hamburg, during which time he pledged a partnership with KAP to celebrate MBSA’s 65th year and diamond legacy. Building on the strength of ‘Threads that make a car’, a project for MBSA which we completed in 2022 where we covered an entire C-Class Mercedes in embroidery, in the last year we have been working on the structure and embroidery for a new feat of not only engineering, but also interpretation of legacy into tapestry.

MBSA are pivotal to industry in the Eastern Cape, supporting not only their own employees, but networks of industries, and even families in the region. Andreas Brand and Abey Kgotle invited us into the heart of their diamond strategy which is described by 7 pillars – sustainability, our leadership, licence to operate, operational excellence, passionate people, diamond product and innovation. Not only have we benefitted from an extraordinary commission – through work – but we have also grown our understanding of what it takes to lead an organisation of excellence.

Currently in production is a the steel diamond structure being engineered in Gqeberha by physicist and aerodynamic engineer Jan Hendrik Coetzee. The 41 square metres of embroidery making up the diamond facets are 90% complete and we look forward to installation of the diamond at MBSA and its launch in the coming weeks. MBSA continues to prove their commitment to the developmental landscape of the Eastern Cape, partnering with us also in their area of corporate social responsibility. It is a long-standing relationship that exists between MBSA and KAP which flourishes to this day.

2024-04-30T13:19:23+00:00April 15, 2024|Art, Project highlights|

Small commissions and consignments

In the background to the complex and layered development on iconic works, production works hard to keep up with smaller works like bags and cushions for consignment orders for shops/galleries like GFI in Ggeberha, Artvark Gallery in Cape Town, Willow and Bailey in Greyton and Stoep designs in East London with larger works also being available through Kim Sacks Gallery in Johannesburg. We create bespoke embroidered smaller works for Montebello, Design Afrika and Kalk Bay Modern, all in Cape Town. These are exceptional partners, very patient too, whose commitment to our work keeps the wheels turning. Illuminated too is our inability at times to produce factory-like conditions! Meeting order deadlines is something we aspire to, continue to improve on, and we welcome new technology that might assist our organisational capacity. Sophie Ferrand-Hazard through Art of Connection and now Constellations Gallery is also an exceptional partner in and catalyst for the creation of new tapestries. She continues to fuel development of both smaller and larger ‘high end’ artworks, having a profound effect on our aesthetics and quality, which she markets both locally and in Europe.

2024-04-30T13:01:28+00:00April 15, 2024|Art, Project highlights|

GFI Gallery, Gqeberha, 2020 – current

Towards the end of 2020 GFI Gallery in Gqeberha commissioned a small tapestry from KAP exploring the rural to urban connection so intimately understood by Keiskamma artists. They bought the tapestry, and dedicated a light filled room of the gallery to a permanent shop and gallery space for KAP, a thriving outlet for the sale of our work to this day. Over four years, GFI Gallery, under the leadership of Dorothea Moors has been a safe haven for ideas, a hub of connections, and with the help of Anna Stewart and Rose von Wildemann, home away from Hamburg for KAP. We have been invited to participate in numerous group shows, one in particular with Textile Artists Port Elizabeth (TAPE) that cemented our friendship with textile/fibre artist and trainer Angie Weisswange who was invaluable in training KAP artists on turning waste into art for the Umlibo tapestry. We look forward to the up and coming exhibition ‘Unsettled’ in September.

2024-04-30T13:00:09+00:00April 15, 2024|Art, Project highlights|

Clout/SA decorative arts/interiors collaboration, 2023 – current

An exciting avenue in the decorative arts for Keiskamma Art Project is being pioneered by Tracy Lynch from Clout/SA. We have launched an initial range of printed textiles and wallpaper of exceptional quality, currently being marketed and sold through Clout/SA. Tracy has been experimenting with products and walking alongside us for some years now. We feel at the very beginning of this incredible journey!

Link to sale of textiles and wallpaper

2024-04-30T13:00:55+00:00April 15, 2024|Art, Project highlights|

Spier Arts Trust creative exchanges with 5 South African artists, 2022 – current

Under the directorship of Mirna Wessels, the Spier Arts Trust has sponsored and facilitated five creative exchanges between KAP and artists Tamlin Blake, Robyn Pretorius, Nkosinathi Quwe, Ayanda Kupa and Henk Serfontein. From these exchanges have emerged 5 beautifully distinct signature tapestries. In between, Mirna and Tamlin, assisted by Tammy Job, have visited Hamburg many times and hosted KAP artists generously on numerous occassions in Cape Town and surrounds for events and exhibitions, continuously supporting, exposing, and investing in networked artistic practice in the Eastern Cape. We are currently working on additional tapestries with Henk and Asanda and look forward to new exchanges.

2024-04-30T13:02:22+00:00April 15, 2024|Art, Project highlights|

Keiskamma Art Project Retrospective Exhibition, 2022 – 2023

24 September 2022 saw the opening of a large scale Retrospective Exhibition of the work of Keiskamma Art Project at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, called “Umaf’ evuka, nje ngenyanga / Dying and Rising as the Moon Does”. A long standing dream of artist Pippa Hetherington’s, inspired by the scale and depth of exhibitions around the world, notably in New York, fired a passionate drive to both raise the funds and curate an exhibition of KAP’S work at this level. Supported by artist and co-curator of the exhibition, Cathy Stanley, they achieved this epic undertaking, one through which valuable networks were established, resources created, and media exposure generated for this celebration of twenty years of artmaking by KAP. A beautiful book and catalogue is in production under the guidance of editor and professional arts writer and researcher Sandra Dodson who also played a key role in bringing the Retrospective Exhibition to life. It is further through the dynamism of the Retrospective team that we are celebrating the sale of the Covid Resilience Tapestry to Judith Nielson today. Proceeds from the sale will go toward the publishing of the book.

Link to the Retrospective Exhibition website: www.keiskammaartproject.org

2024-04-30T13:03:31+00:00April 15, 2024|Art, Project highlights|

Kids Guernica workshops, 2022 – 2025

In September 2021, Dr Nicola Ashmore from Brighton University joined forces with artist and arts facilitator Savina Tarsitano to host a weeklong children’s artmaking workshop in Hamburg called the Kids Guernica workshop. Nicola’s research captures the content and impact of Picasso’s Guernica and versions of the Guernica around the world. A movement has developed around this original artwork of protest in its ability to inspire and inform peace. Children of KAP’S artists and embroiderers were led to develop their own enormous painted canvas, learning creative and expressive skills while safely and creatively hosted by Nicola’s team which included Carolyn Watt and Joe Hague.

The success of this workshop, not only for the children, but for the adults as well, has led to efforts to host another workshop in 2025, with the view to sustaining an art club for children in Hamburg that we host one day a week for children. There is no arts education in local schools. The introduction to the life skills and personal development inherent in creativity as well as exposure to the creative arts is thus high on our development agenda.

Watch the film ‘Guernica Remakings and Kids’ Guernica, Hamburg, South Africa 2022’ below:

2024-04-30T13:20:20+00:00April 15, 2024|Art, Project highlights|

Ubumbano/Unite – a collaboration with ArtCollab around the theme of gender-based violence, 2021 – current

After a year of isolation and no visitors to KAP in 2020, 2021 began with new energy and a model collaboration between KAP and ArtCollab led by Deborah Weber. Artcollab consisted of the artists from Johannesburg and Cape Town Elgin Rust, Deborah Weber, Luntu Vumazonke and Jolene Cartmill, who worked closely with Anelisa Nyongo, Nombulelo Paliso (Kwandi), Sanela Maxengana, Veronica Betani and Siyabonga Maswana from KAP. The group produced prints, costumes, video work and performance pieces around the theme that emerged of gender-based violence.

A complex issue was tackled creatively, adeptly and the original work developed further into printed photographs that have been embroidered. These were exhibited in Johannesburg at Melrose Arch Gallery and are currently on exhibition alongside the original video work at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum in Gqeberha. This exhibition in Gqeberha is the culmination of recent workshops we hosted with a group of local women – master beaders – with Luntu Vumazonke, Veronica Betani and Elgin Rust joining as facilitators. A profoundly moving week workshopping the theme of gender-based violence created a safe space for voices, a new documentary, and the invitation of new embroidered works by the participants, all currently together on view alongside works from the art museum’s permanent collection in both an exhibition, and call to action, called “Ubumbano/Unite”.

2024-04-30T13:13:12+00:00April 15, 2024|Art, Project highlights|

Our Sacred Ocean Ulwandle lwethu olungcwele, 2021 – 2023

With sponsorship from One Ocean Hub’s Deep Fund, an international team supporting ocean research, we have been able to work with the narratives and memories of local artists and community members in the creation of a tapestry about the ocean as a sacred resource. It details the strengths of the spiritual connection between people and the ocean as a means of conservating both memories and the ocean itself – a holy place – a place of the ancestors.

The 3 m x 3 m circular work was exhibited at the National Arts Festival, Makhanda in 2022 and then in Cape Town at Zero Gallery/Eitz Project Space as part of a group show called “The Ocean is Sacred: You Can’t Mine Heaven” curated by Dylan McGarry. In Cape Town we met the incredible One Ocean Hub Team from Glasgow, Stuart Jeffrey and Lisa Mcdonald. Cebo Mvubu accompanied the tapestry to the Glasgow School of Art in 2023 where he could speak about KAP and a unique approach to preserving our oceans at the exhibition called: “Undercurrents: Art and Ocean in Africa and the Pacific”. The tapestry then travelled to London to the prestigious Design Week as part of the exhibition “Eureka” at Somerset House. This is a pivotal artwork for KAP and set a beautiful precedent for long term partnerships around the making of an iconic artwork.

2024-04-30T13:15:35+00:00April 15, 2024|Art, Project highlights|

Lessons from Lockdown: Mapula Keiskamma exchange, 2020 – current

Inspired by Carol’s insight into the need for empathy and connection during Covid-19, we partnered with the women from Mapula Embroideries in the Winterveld to exchange rural womens’ lived experiences as text, photos and film via Whatsapp. These digital exchanges from different geographies led to 8 beautiful pairs of tapestries, each an interpretation of another woman’s experience. Our first exchange between Rosina Maepa and Veronica Betani was turned into a film for an online exhibition, Lessons from Lockdown, for Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck University of London, under the directorship of Professor Annie E. Coombes.

Link to film: ‘I see you Vero, I see you Rosina: finding our common threads’ by Veronica Betani and Rosina Maepa:

The exchanges led to a tour a year later, of eight women from Mapula and their respective Keiskamma partners in Gqeberha, where we were hosted for workshops and an exhibition by the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, before all travelling to Hamburg. 16 new panels have emerged through this complex and lasting engagement that has first and foremostly cemented solidarity and friendships. The panels await integration into a new major work that will be a visual archive of rural womens’ experiences, told through 16 unique life journeys and two embroidery projects’ very different creative approaches and collective memories.

2024-04-30T13:18:06+00:00April 15, 2024|Art, Project highlights|

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